A huge database with more than 419 million telephone numbers of Facebook users, linked to the Facebook ID, was available unencrypted on the internet. The Facebook ID can be used to find the Facebook Username. In some cases, the name, gender and nationality of each user were also recorded.
This has been revealed by security researcher Sanyam Jain. The administrator of the server has removed the database from the network after noticing. Who put the data on the server is not known. According to Techcrunch, the data comes from the US, Vietnam and the UK.
Facebook has confirmed the existence of the huge data collection. This is data that someone has collected through Facebook’s user search. Until April 2018 it was possible for everyone to find the profile of the respective user by entering the telephone number or e-mail address. Since phone numbers are assigned according to known schemes, it was possible to try the numbers in order to see which profiles exist. That’s how this database could have been created.
According to Facebook, there are no indications that the data was used to crack Facebook accounts. This is possible via so-called SIM swapping. In this case, a fraudster pretends to be the owner of the phonenumber to the mobile operator and reports phone and SIM card as stolen to get a new SIM card with the respective number.
While most of the datasets are from Vietnam and the US, around 18 million British people were affected. Thus, the incident falls under the General Data Protection Regulation. The head office of the operator is not relevant (see Article 3 GDPR).
Because of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook had to pay fines (for example Italy or Great Britain) in several European countries. Since the incident at that time was discovered before the GDPRentered into force, GDPRwas not applied. In this case, the company will have to expect higher fines.